Dustin Lapray likes to begin his newspaper articles for the Magic Valley Times-News by defining words, which is a tactic we employed in high school English before switching to the "For thousands of years" intro at our teacher's behest. Those were the days.
However, we feel that it is appropriate for this article to begin with a definition, since the very nature of the headline implies that the meaning of the word "rivalry" is in question. So here we go...
Webster's defines an Idaho Vandal as "a fruitless participant in an impossible conflict in which he or she is neither prepared nor favored." See also, "general failure."
With that definition in mind, and with the definition of the Broncos as "world-beaters" and "perennial champions," it is obvious that Idaho and Boise State are not even in the same league any more. Figuratively, not literally. And as such, the rivalry between the two schools has suffered.
Idaho week is supposed to be the biggest week on Boise State's calendar, but it's not - not by far. Statue Left had an interesting post about just this topic, wondering aloud whether or not the Vandals game remains a "hate-filled rivalry."
The fans new to the Treasure Valley would/could say that this is not a rivalry game simply because the Vandals usually get blown out. Any fan who remembers THE STREAK will casually remind those rookie fans that there is plenty of payback left to dole out......
And therein lies the problem: No one remembers.
I will never forget the fake punt against an ailing Pokey Allen.
I will never forget the gutsy playcalling of Chris Tormey....still the best game I have ever seen where the Broncos lost at home.
I will never forget the last game of the Skip Hall era where Idaho just straight trounced the Broncos.
Statue Left might never forget, but many in Bronco Nation probably don't even know what he's talking about. The Vandals straight trouncing the Broncos? Impossible. And who's this Skip Hall guy? Was he Cam Hall's dad?
Our point is that Bronco fans don't look at the Idaho rivalry the same because many Bronco fans haven't experienced any of this Vandal equality firsthand. It has been nearly a decade since Idaho beat Boise State. A decade ago, a good portion of Bronco Nation was preoccupied with other things: like puberty.
For the past 10 years, the Vandals have been horrible while the Broncos have been incredible. If you had started following Boise State football in the late 1990's, you would have never had any idea that Boise State vs. Idaho was supposed to be a big deal unless someone told you it was supposed to be. Even then, you'd probably have to ask, "You mean this Idaho?"
That is where we find ourselves, rooting against the Vandals because everyone else is. We don't poke fun at Robb Akey and Nathan Enderle because they threaten us. We do it because we feel we're supposed to. It's the same reason we eat salads at dinner - someone told us we're supposed to eat salads.
Now we're getting closer to the real question about "rivalry." The Idaho game will always be a rivalry for those who lived it when it was a rivalry. If Robb Akey pulled a fake punt against an ailing Chris Petersen, we would hate the Vandals for eternity. Calling the Broncos the "donks" last year was a start, but it felt more like we were grasping at straws. The passionate Idaho haters actually have on-field reasons to despise the Vandals. That's why they're exempt from the discussion.
The debate is this: is being told the Vandals are Boise State's rivals enough to make it true? The answer is probably different depending on whom you ask.
For us, the answer is yes. When we became Bronco fans, we adopted the entire history of the Broncos into our lives. We didn't just take the glorious Fiesta Bowl and I-AA championship years; we took everything. And as part of that indoctrination, we have an obligation to root against the Vandals. That's how it is rationalized in our heads.
Besides, there are still reasons for us to hate the Vandals. The Broncos recruit some of the same players as the Vandals do. The teams share a state and a conference. Vandal players and coaches occasionally mouth off about things.
But if you're wanting us to get jacked up to face them on the field, you're asking a lot of us. We have never really seen them as a competitive threat to the Broncos, and until they beat us on the field, we never will see them that way. We're just going to have to take your word for it.
And, for now, that's okay with us.
Read more: Idaho Vandals: are they a relevant rival anymore? [Statue Left]